I think regular readers know that I’m rather obsessed with themes of moving and what makes a house a home. So when I saw a review of today’s Perfect Picture Book on Susanna Hill’s blog a few weeks ago, you know that I immediately requested it from my local library and switched around the review schedule to feature it today. Happy Halloween!
Title: Hardly Haunted
Written & Illustrated By: Jessie Sima
Publisher/Date: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/2021
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: loneliness, home, Halloween, haunted
There was a house on a hill, and that house was worried.
Brief Synopsis: An old house fears she is empty because she is haunted.
Links to Resources:
- Have you ever heard strange noises at night like creaking, rapping on a window, or drip-drip-drips? What do you think causes those noises? Draw a picture of a scary or a friendly monster that might be the cause;
- Bake and decorate your own haunted cookie house for Halloween;
- Check out these downloadable activities.
Why I Like this Book:
Told from the point-of-view of a lonely old house that fears that she is haunted, Hardly Haunted is filled with not-too-scary scenes and loads of onomatopoeia that will have kids asking you to read it one more time.
I love that the house thinks that if she’s on her “very best behavior”, people won’t notice “how spooky” she is. Although there are things she can’t change, like the cobwebs and dust, the house determines to keep very still to avoid the creaks, squeaks, and groans that could frighten others. In many ways this reminded me of things kids, and even adults, do to minimize “bad” behaviors or traits to find affirmation and friendship.
But when things beyond her control cause new sounds, the house notices that these sounds could be fun, and that she, like a rambunctious kid, “liked being noisy.” And by embracing her uniqueness, she realizes that maybe a family would like to live in a haunted home after all.
Sima’s purply-blue-gray palette with splashes of orangy-yellow are perfect for this story, and her depiction of the outside of the house made me feel like I was looking at a face. The inclusion of a cat on almost every page completes this delightful package.
A Note about Craft:
A story about a family moving into a house filled with all sorts of spooky sounds would be interesting. But a story told from the point-of-view of that house is much more interesting and enables Sima to include an additional theme about being true to yourself.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!